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Cement is a fine powder, obtained from the calcination at 1,450°C of a mix of limestone, clay, and iron ore. The product of the calcination process is clinker—the main ingredient of cement—that is finely ground with gypsum and other chemical additives to produce cement.
It is the most widely used construction material worldwide. It provides beneficial as well as desirable properties, such as compressive strength (construction material with highest strength per unit cost), durability, and aesthetics to a variety of construction applications.
Cement is mainly used as a binder in concrete, which is a basic material for all types of construction, including housing, roads, schools, hospitals, dams, and ports, as well as for decorative applications (for patios, floors, staircases, driveways, pool decks) and items like tables, sculptures, or bookcases.
Cement is made by heating limestone (calcium carbonate) with small quantities of other materials (such as clay) to 1450 °C in a kiln, in a process known as calcination, whereby a molecule of carbon dioxide is liberated from the calcium carbonate to form calcium oxide, or quicklime, which is then blended with the other materials that have been included in the mix.
The most common type of cement is Portland. This category is divided roughly into Gray and white. Gray is the most well-known –most people refer to it when they say the word cement. White is the aesthetic alternative of Gray which is used in buildings that have an aesthetic component: churches, museums, etc.
The consumers of Portland cement can be divided into three categories: governments, construction firms, and individual homeowners. The cement industry is a crucial industry for infra-structure build-up which is necessary for economic growth. Left unchecked however it can cause detrimental long run sustainability problems: impact on climate change, health hazards, as well as excessive energy resource depletion.
The cement industry is a capital intensive, energy consuming, and vital industry for sustaining infrastructure of nations. The international cement market, while constituting a small share of world industry output, has been growing at an increasing rate relative to local production in recent years.
Attempts to protect the environment in developed countries, especially Europe have caused cement production plants to shift to countries with less stringent environmental regulations. Along with continually rising real prices, this has created a concerning pattern on economic efficiency and environmental compliance.
This environmental impact of burning fuel necessary to produce cement in China, if uncontrolled, will lead to global warming because of the emission of greenhouse gases caused by the burning. The impact of global warming however is not limited to China alone but may have an extended impact on countries even as far away as South Africa.
The International cement market is one of the least regulated markets on an international scale whereas international cement trade has been growing intensively in recent decades. While the amount of cement traded has increased, the percentage of internationally traded cement to total cement production remains in single percent digits (5% to 7%). This means that most cement production exists to satisfy local consumption.
However, public projects are keeping the total cement production around the world on the rise. It is interesting to note that production is concentrated in developing nations; at least 70% of world total production is based in developing countries.
China leads the way in cement consumption and production around the world due to the large-scale developments and infrastructure build-up projects that the Chinese government is undertaking. the Chinese production hovers around 50% of world total while the second closest rival India hovers around 6%.
The demand for cement is considered to be price inelastic due to lack of apparent substitutes. This can be seen with varying degrees across the world today. As the economies of different countries are in recession and the construction business has been negatively impacted, cement prices persistently increased in real terms.
Portland cement is used either in making concrete or mortars and, as such, competes in the construction sector with concrete substitutes such as aluminium, asphalt, clay brick, rammed earth, fiberglass, glass, steel, stone, and wood.
In other words, some of these materials can be utilized in higher proportions to decrease the use of concrete which has the effect of decreasing the use of cement. Actual cement substitutes are a number of materials, especially fly ash and ground granulated blast furnace slag, which develop good hydraulic cementitious properties.
The Global Market of Cement can be segmented into following categories for further analysis.
Cement manufacturing processes are associated with emissions of large quantities of greenhouse gases and environmental pollutants. Thereby it has been important to have new substitutes which are of low active pollutant concentration based to be induced within the cement manufacturing.
Various categories of cements have been introduced as part of technological innovations within their respective technology pilot labs of the cement manufacturing giants operating around the globe. These have been made in concentration to fulfil the requirements of industry specific operational needs to handle the various mechanical and chemical stresses.
These include the rapid-hardening cement (RHC), quick-setting cement (QSC), low-heat cement (LHC), sulphate-resisting cement (SRC), blast furnace slag cement (BFSC), high-alumina cement (HAC),white cement (WC), coloured cement (CC), pozzolanic cement (PzC), air-entraining cement (AEC), and hydro-phobic cement (HpC).
These have been produced as part of basic environmental reuse and recycling requirements of industrial wastes wherein the focus was kept upon introducing new characteristics of durability and strength etc. as per the industrial classification of usage.
The environmental aspect has been the major turning point for all the technological and research development within the composition requirements of cement manufacturing. Minimizing air pollution is a mandatory legislative requirement, which also contributes to minimizing wastage and survival of the industry.
A modernised approach has been integrated in the pilot projects, wherein the dust particles emitted at sites other than kilns can be captured using a hood or other partial enclosure and transported through a series of ducts to the collectors. The dust collected can be fed to the kiln provided that it is not too alkaline, not exceeding 0.6% as per the Na2O (N) content.
The Latest technology innovation in cement composition has been nano cement. Nano cement is the cement produced by mechanical activation of nuclear cement particles in the size range 2-3 µm by coating with 10 to 100 nm-thick membranes of modifier materials.
Nano cement improves the technical quality of the Portland cement, reduces cost of production due to the use of 70 wt. Mineral additives, 1.5–2 times reduction of the fuel cost, and 2-3 times reduction of emission of NOx, SO2, and CO2 per tonne of cement. Nano cement has extremely high performance; for instance, the strength of nano cement-based concrete and ordinary Portland cement-based concrete at 2-days hardening are around 2 times greater than the expected values.
The world continues to lead the way as global cement production is growing at exponential rates. Some companies such as China National Building Materials (CNBM) have increased their cement production capacity 11 times over the past few years’ production rate due to an expected increase in future market demand. Currently, global cement consumption volume is expected to reach 4.42 billion tonnes in 2021.
Heidelberg Cement which has been one of the largest manufacturers of cement on a global scale have been involved in improvising their execution process and mechanism. They have recently started focusing upon integrating a 100% possibility of sustainable cement mixtures into their requirements.
The Continuous Improvement Program (CIP), Maintenance Improvement Program (MIP), and Operational Excellence (OPEX) were introduced into the cement production mechanisms at Heidelberg Cements . In 2020, they built upon these programs towards digitalisation. Digital technologies helped them to monitor plants and provide support remotely.
The Cement manufacturing major Cemex has also been involved in production of various classes and specialised cement products by using its pilot projects within the facilities. The recent development has been the oil well cement which is a specially designed variety of hydraulic cement. It usually forges slowly and is manageable at high temperatures and pressures. Produced in classes, the oil-well cement is applicable for different depth, chemical aggression, or pressure levels.
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